IX pageKyivan RusPrincely times Princes and Princesses

Askold (Oskold; birth place and date unknown – 882, Kyiv) – semilegendary Old Rus Prince of Kyiv.

One of the founders of the first Eastern Slavic state formation in the Dnipro area (Kyiv Principality). The origin of Prince Askold is still discussed in scientific circles; there are Scandinavian, Gothic, and Slavic versions. Thus, the 15 th-century Polish historian Jan Długosz maintained that Askold had belonged to the princely dynasty that began with Kyi and was the brother of Dir. The same conception was shared by such Ukrainian historiographers like M. Kostomarov, V. Antonovych, M. Hrushevsky, D. Bahaliy, D. Doroshenko, M. Chubaty, and others.

In chronicles Askold is always mentioned with Dir, though historians established that Askold reigned in Kyiv in the 850 s – 860 s, while Dir – in the 870 s – early 880 s.

Askold carried out an active foreign policy. On June 18, 860, Rus warriors led by Askold burst on 200 boats into the Golden Horn Bay that washed Constantinople, landed there and besieged the city. The Byzantine Emperor Michael III began negotiations with Askold and signed with him an agreement, which, judging from the content of following Rus-Byzantine agreements, guaranteed privileges of Rus merchants in Byzantium. The Rus Chronicle under the year of 866 describes the second (unsuccessful) campaign of Askold against the Greeks and the protection by the Mother of God of the city of Constantinople, after which Askold with a small survived army returned to Kyiv. This event, evidently, contributed to the fact that in 867, as Byzantine sources testify, Askold was baptized, probably with some of his warriors. According to M. Braichevsky’s reconstruction, the Prince got the baptismal name of Nicholas; right away after the campaign the Patriarch established a new metropolitanate and sent Bishop Michael, who became the first head of the Rus Church, to Kyiv.

The Tale of Bygone Years under the year of 882 relates the legend of the death of Askold and Dir at the hands of mercenaries of Prince Oleh, who tricked the both Princes from Kyiv. “And having killed them, brought to the mount and buried.” It took place, possibly, in the Uhorske (Hungarian) area – a historical locality on the slopes of the right bank of the Dnipro in Kyiv. With time, the place of the murder and burial got the name of Askold’s Grave.

Icon portrait (imaginary) of Prince Askold